Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a type of brain injury that occurs
from lack of oxygen to an infant's brain. Also known as perinatal asphyxia
or intrapartum, this condition can lead to serious brain damage and permanent
cognitive disabilities, development delays, mobility deficiencies, and even
In many cases, health care providers are able to prevent oxygen deprivation
by staying vigilant and applying the correct procedures. However, when
doctors and nurses fail to be alert, babies can suffer serious injury
within their first minutes—negatively impacting the rest of their lives.
What are the causes of HIE?
HIE is estimated to occur in about two to nine per 1,000 live births, which
is why it is considered the most common type of neonatal encephalopathy
(NE). Neonatal encephalopathy is defined as any disturbed neurological
function in a newborn infant.
There is a wide range of potential causes that may result in birth asphyxia
and HIE. The most common cause of HIE in full-term infants is intrauterine
asphyxia from circulatory issues, such as placental artery clogging or
Other common causes of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy include:
- Placental insufficiency
- Compressed umbilical cord
- Uterus rupture
- Knots in the umbilical cord
- A mother’s blood clotting disorders
- Fetal-maternal hemorrhage
- A mother’s extremely low blood pressure
- Heart failure
- Any delivery-related errors and issues, such as prolonged labor, umbilical
cord complications, or premature delivery
With proper monitoring, doctors can detect whether a fetus or infant is
at risk of HIE. There are various treatment options available—that
must be administered immediately—to fight HIE and deliver oxygen
to vital organs. If your doctor fails to diagnose HIE in a timely manner,
your fetus or infant could suffer permanent and potentially fatal damage.
What is Perinatal Asphyxia?
Perinatal asphyxia, also known as birth asphyxia, is a condition which
occurs because of oxygen deprivation. Oxygen flows to the fetus through
the placenta and umbilical cord. If birth trauma during labor or delivery
disrupts the transfer of oxygen to the fetus, brain injuries can occur
This oxygen deprivation may result in permanent brain damage as well as
other physical issues, including damage to the kidneys, cardiovascular
system, digestive system, and respiratory system. These health problems
may have life-long consequences for a child.
What are the causes of birth asphyxia?
Common causes of perinatal asphyxia include the following:
- Prolonged labor
- Premature separation of the placenta from the uterus
- Umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck
- Placenta rupture or other issues with the placenta
- Pre-eclampsia or eclampsia
- A mother’s low or high blood pressure
In most cases, monitoring the vital signs of the fetus and the mother throughout
labor and delivery will prevent perinatal asphyxia. Once doctors observe
anything unusual, they will respond by performing an emergency cesarean section.
But when a doctor or nurse fails to monitor the vital signs of the fetus
and the child suffers injury, it may be considered medical negligence.
A child who suffers a brain injury is likely to require ongoing medical
assistance for the remainder of their life.
Do I need to hire a lawyer?
Lifelong medical assistance is extremely costly. Fortunately, our Birmingham
HIE lawyers at Hare Wynn have a comprehensive understanding of state
medical malpractice law to help you obtain the most favorable outcome possible. We understand that
birth injuries result in serious and long-term consequences for both the injured child
and that child’s family. We are ready to fight for you throughout
the legal process while you focus all of your energy into taking care
of your child.
For more information, contact us and schedule a free consultation today.